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SCULPTURE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 364 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SCULPTURE.—Florence, 1489-1494.-" Head of a Faun," marble; lost. Condivi describes Michelangelo's first essay in sculpture as a head of an aged faun with a front tooth knocked out, this latter poini having been an afterthought suggested by Lorenzo dei Medici. The .lead is sometimes identified with one in the National Museum at Florence, which however bears no marks of Michelangelo's early style and is in all probability spurious.—" Madonna seated on a Step," bronze; Casa Buonarroti, Florence. This bas-relief, executed in imitation of the technical style of Donatello, is a genuine example of Michelangelo's early work in the Medicean school under Bertoldo.—" Centauromachia," marble; Casa Buonarroti. A fine and genuine work in full relief, of probably somewhat later date than the last-mentioned. The subject occurs often in ancient sarcophagus reliefs: Michelangelo has followed the antique in his conception and treatment of the nude, but the arrangement of the subject is his own. Bologna, 1494-1495.—Statuettes of " St Petronius," " St Proculus," and a " Kneeling Angel," marble; part of the decorations of the shrine of St Dominic in the church of that saint at Bologna: the style of all three much influenced by the work of Jacopo della Quercia in the same church; the attitude of the kneeling angel with the candelabrum imitated from an ancient bas-relief. Florence, 1495-1496.—" St John in the Wilderness," executed for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco dei Medici, marble; probably lost. Declared in 1874 to have been found again in the possession of Count Gualandi-Rossalmini at Pisa. Vehement and prolonged discussion arose as to the authenticity of this newly-found S. Giovannino, and at last it was bought for the Berlin Museum, where its genuineness is still stoutly maintained. But the finicking and affected elegance of the conception denote a different temperament from Michelangelo's and probably a later date. With this figure must be given up also the restoration of an antique group of " Bacchus and Ampelus " at the Uffizi, which is clearly by the same hand and is claimed also as an early work of Michelangelo.—" Recumbent Cupid," bought by the cardinal San Giorgio as an antique, marble; lost. The attempts to recognize it in certain extant copies or servile imitations of the antique, especially one now at Turin, must be held mistaken. Rome, 1495-1501.—" Virgin lamenting the dead Christ," commissioned by the abbot de la Grolaie; marble, St Peter's, Rome.—" Bacchus and young Faun," commissioned by Jacopo Galli; marble, National Museum, Florence. (Of these two masterpieces of Michelangelo's youth enough has been said above).—" Cupid," commissioned by the abbot de la Grolaie; marble; lost; has been commonly identified as the " Kneeling Cupid " of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but this, if by Michelangelo at all, which is not quite certain, must in all likelihood belong to a later time. Florence, 1501-1506.—" Five Saints, in niches decorating the shrine of Pius II.," commissioned by the Piccolomini family; marble; cathedral of Siena. The contract for the sculptured decoration of this shrine was one of those which the pressure of other work pre-vented the artist from ever taking seriously in hand. Of the five saints in niches, traditionally reputed to be his work, the St Peter alone shows any clear marks of his style; the other four were probably designed, and certainly carried out, by weaker hands.—" David " (the " Gigante "), commissioned for the city of Florence by Piero Soderini; marble; Florence Academy. Besides what has been said above, it has only to be added that a wax model in the Casa Buonarroti, showing nearly the same design with a different movement of the legs, is probably Michelangelo's original sketch for the subject. " David," commissioned by Pierre Rohan: bronze, lost; a clay model in the National Museum, Florence, may probably be a sketch for it; more than one bronze has been brought forward with claims to be the original, but. none has stood the test of criticism. " Virgin and Child," commissioned for Taddeo Taddei; circular relief, unfinished, marble; London, Royal Academy. The motive of the Christ-child frightened by the flutterings of the bird held out by St John is the most playful in all Michelangelo's work; the whole design shows the influence of Leonardo in his gentler, as much as the cartoon of the " Bathers " shows it in his more violent, moods." Virgin and Child with St John," commissioned by Bartolommeo Pitti; nearly circular relief, unfinished, marble; Florence, National Museum: a more tranquil and very charming presentment. " Madonna and Child," sold to the Mouscron family of Bruges (known in Italy as Moscheroni), and by them presented to the church of Notre Dame in that city; group in the round, marble; church of Notre Dame, Bruges. A meditative seated Virgin with upright head, the naked child seated between her knees, his smoothly rounded form in strong contrast with her complicated draperies. " St Matthew ": one of a set of twelve statues of Apostles commissioned by the consuls of the Arte della Lana for the cathedral at Florence; marble; National Museum, Florence. Unfinished (only roughly blocked out), the other figures of the set never having been so much as begun; the contract was signed in 1503 and cancelled in 15o5. There is an early drawing by Raphael from this statue.
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